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Can I coerce Backup Exec 12.5/2010 (or an alternative) to this approach?

Posted on 2011-02-15
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Bit of a ranty, pie-in-the-sky, stab-in-the-dark question, this, but here goes...

It seems that, if I split a single multi-server job into per-server (or per-dept) jobs, all using the same tape library, that the following problems occur:
 1.  It will always try to pick a new tape for each job, instead of appending to the last-written tape (regardless of the media pool, or the Media Overwrite Protection setting)
 2.  If the jobs are scheduled for the same time, they will queue and run sequentially provided that they do not take longer than 24 hours to complete, otherwise they fall foul of the 'time window'

I can't seem to find a way around these and am looking for alternative options.  In an ideal world, I would like to schedule a set of jobs to run sequentially, without any time window, all appending to the same media set.  

I have considered disk-to-disk-to-tape but that throws up its own issue: I can only replicate backup sets, which means I need as much disk storage as I have tape storage, which just isn't viable (economically or physically) in the server I have.  I would prefer to define a disk-disk-tape target device that would support the following, as part of the device operation:
 1.  Writing the BKF files to disk until the disk target reaches its configured limit
 2.  Then writing the contents of the disk target to the tape library
 3.  Then emptying the disk target and continuing the job (as per #1)
 
I've been using Backup Exec in its various forms for years; I really like its interface and agent support and it has never let me down yet but it is starting to get difficult to manage so perhaps it is time to look at alternative software.  
 1.  Have I missed something in Backup Exec that might address the issues/approach I have listed above?
 2.  Does anyone know of any alternatives (with similar application support) that do work in the way I would like?
 
J.
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Question by:jimbobmcgee
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by:
SelfGovern earned 1000 total points
ID: 34903688
I'm not aware of anything in BE that will do what you want (but I'm not Mr. BackupExecExpert, either).

However -- if you're willing to take a look at HP's Data Protector, I think you'll find it refreshing.  To solve your major issue, it lets you put several server backups into a single job with concurrency of '1' -- they'll run sequentially, to the same backup target (drive and tape).

It's got agents for all the applications you'd expect (Exchange, Oracle, etc.).

I don't think it helps you, but it can send a backup to two targets simultaneously (disk and tape, for instance) so you don't have to do a later copy-to-tape).

It uses the concept of a 'cell', for if you expand to multiple backup servers.  You can create backup jobs on any system with a backup server, and copy them to a device physically attached to any other backup server, all controlled centrally.   This could come in handy if you do decide to do some backup-to-disk locally (that is, a machine other than the backup server, backing up to disk attached to itself), and then copy to physical tape later.

Free 60-day eval is available from http://www.hp.com/go/dataprotector
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by:Rahul Misra
Rahul Misra earned 1000 total points
ID: 34905165
1.  Writing the BKF files to disk until the disk target reaches its configured limit
 2.  Then writing the contents of the disk target to the tape library
 3.  Then emptying the disk target and continuing the job (as per #1)
 
Not Possible.

You can run concurrent jobs provided you have multiple tape drives.
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by:jimbobmcgee
ID: 34906658
>> if you're willing to take a look at HP's Data Protector
I am and will look at the evaluation; thanks.

>> Not Possible.
I figured as much.  I did get very close, however, with the following steps:
  - assigning a disk partition as a Removable Backup-To-Disk Folder;
  - configuring my main job to target that folder device;
  - setting up a job to fully backup that partition to tape, with an on-success post-command to empty the partition;
  - scheduling an external script to check the free space of the partition and kick off the tape job when it hit a certain threshold with bemcmd.exe
  - setting BE to auto-answer yes to the Media Insert prompt

...but I couldn't figure a suitable way to feed the tape backups back to the folder device that BE would understand, which made the restore unviable (and that's what's more important, obviously!).

I think I might have got around problem #1 by electing not to eject the tape after each job and not to rentension it before each job (a couple of tick-boxes tucked away in the job options), but that will require further testing (and a means to eject the tape after the last job only).

As for problem #2, I'm looking at using the post-command of each job to start the next with bemcmd.exe, but its not exactly the most maintenance-friendly of approaches.

(It pains me that something so expensive is hindered by something so simple as a forced time window.  Why oh why can't you just turn it off!!)
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by:jimbobmcgee
ID: 35416798
We're basically setting up our own custom scheduler for the purposes of avoiding the time window, defining the jobs in Backup Exec with the largest time window we can (i.e. 23:59:59) and starting the jobs with bemcmd.exe.  A post-complete job in each alerts our scheduler that the job has finished, so the next can be started.

Never did find an alternative that might let us use a "disk-staged" tape in the way that we hoped; I gave up trying to do it with BE.

Didn't take to HP Data Protector; it just didn't feel intuitive enough and the licensing was a little tricky to work out.  That said, we didn't take to Arcserve, Acronis, NetVault or NetBak either; better the devil you know in the end...

Cheers all.
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Expert Comment

by:SelfGovern
ID: 35417673
Thanks for the feedback on what worked and didn't work for you.
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